Atlanta, GA

As Atlanta Braves Visit the White House, Biden’s Press Secretary Suggests a “Conversation” Is Needed About a Name Change

Toby Hazlewood

Braves mired in politics over name and traditions
President Biden with BravesTwitter of POTUS

On September 26, the Baseball World Series Champions for the 2021 season - the Atlanta Braves were invited to the White House for an audience with President Joe Biden to recognize the Georgia team's achievements.

In his speech to the team, President Biden joked about his own narrow victory over Donald Trump in the state of Georgia:

“People counted you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out. And I know in Georgia, you show up when it counts.”

Not all about celebrations

While it was a good day for the Braves, having their victory honored by the president, it didn't go entirely smoothly.

On the same day, during a press conference Biden's Press Secretary - Karine Jean-Pierre - responded to a question on the topic of whether the team's name should be changed to bring it more in line with modern standards and to avoid causing offence to some Americans.

The suggestion was that it is outdated and disrespectful to Native Americans and indigenous peoples of the United States to continue to use the name 'Braves' and associated traditions including the 'Tomahawk chop' gesture favored by Braves fans.

Time for a "conversation"

Responding to the question over whether it was time for the team's name and traditions to be changed, Jean-Pierre had this to say:

"We believe that it's important to have this conversation, and Native American and indigenous voices should be at the center of this conversation."

While there have been suggestions that to continue to use the name 'Braves' and to culturally appropriate symbols of Native American life - such as through the 'tomahawk chop' gesture - is offensive, it would seem that many Georgians believe that the club, its names and traditions are long-held and worth clinging onto.

Georgia's Governor Brian Kemp shared his views on Twitter, via his personal account:

Other teams have adapted

Cleveland Indians - another team whose name and logo drew on Native American history - carried that name from 1914 until the start of 2022 when they were renamed the Cleveland Guardians. The Braves have carried their name since 1912.

Both the Braves and the Indians have been pressured in the past to change their names - in 1995 a protest was held by various Native American groups who staged a rally outside the stadium, urging the teams to change their ways. Clearly it wasn't to be however, at that point anyway.

Whether the 'conversation' that the White House mentioned on September 26 amounts to anything, remains to be seen. It would seem that there could be objections from both Governor Kemp and from Braves fans too. Time will tell.

Do you think that the Atlanta Braves should be pressured to change their name to avoid causing offence? Do you believe that the name is outdated, or should its heritage be preserved, regardless of whether any group takes offence? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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